Moscow accused Ankara of endangering Russian lives on Thursday after Turkey forced a Syrian passenger plane to land and seized what it suspected was military equipment being ferried from Russia to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Damascus said the interception of the Syrian Air plane was an act of piracy, further heightening tensions between the neighbors after Turkey’s chief of staff warned his troops would respond with greater force if shells from Syria continued to hit Turkish territory.
Military jets escorted the Damascus-bound Airbus A-320, which was carrying around 30 passengers from Moscow, into Ankara airport late on Wednesday after Turkey received intelligence that it was carrying “non-civilian cargo.”Russia angrily demanded an explanation.
“The lives and safety of the passengers were placed under threat”, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that 17 of its nationals on board were refused access to Russian diplomatic staff.
The plane and its passengers were allowed to continue after parts of the cargo were seized. Officials gave no details of what was confiscated, saying investigations were underway, Reuters reported.